NORFOLK – Devante Smith-Pelly had a goal and an assist and Patrick Maroon scored in his return from the NHL's Anaheim Ducks to force overtime. However, Marc-Andre Gragnani scored 36 seconds into overtime as the Norfolk Admirals (25-26-4-1) fell to the Charlotte Checkers (34-19-2-3), 3-2, on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope Arena.
With the point earned for sending the game to overtime, Norfolk has now earned at least one point in the standings in eight of its last ten games (6-2-2-0). Frederik Andersen (13-11-1) saw his personal six-game winning streak end as he stopped 19 of 22 shots. The Checkers (4-2-0-0, 8 points) now lead the Admirals (2-3-1-0, 5 points) by three points in the battle for the GEICO Challenge Cup with two games remaining in the season series (Mar. 13th at Charlotte, Mar. 26th at Charlotte).
The Admirals will host the Hershey Bears on Friday and Saturday nights at Scope.
Norfolk struck first 6:58 into the game on Smith-Pelly’s seventh goal of the season. Dan Sexton spotted Nate Guenin with a pass at the high slot. Guenin sent a slap pass to Smith-Pelly at the goalmouth near the bottom of the left circle, and Smith-Pelly shot the puck past Charlotte goaltender John Muse for a 1-0 lead. With their assists, Guenin recorded his 100th professional point and Sexton extended his point/assist streak to five games (1g, 6a).
The Checkers tied the game at 1-1 just less than four minutes later. David Marshall carried the puck into the Norfolk zone along the right wing and sent a shot that Andersen blocked. A hard-charging Chris Terry knocked the puck and Andersen into the net. After video review, the play was deemed a good goal for Terry at 10:48 of the first period.
Charlotte took a 2-1 lead with a five-on-three power play goal 15:08 into the second period. Marc-Andre Gragnani skated the puck from the right point into the high slot before sending it to Jeremy Welsh between the hashmarks. Welsh sent a quick shot that eluded Andersen along the ice.
The Admirals tied the game with a power play goal of their own 22 seconds into the third period. Smith-Pelly chased down a Sami Vatanen dump-in behind the Charlotte net. He backhanded a pass into the low slot for Maroon, whose initial shot was denied by Muse. However, Maroon got his own rebound and sent a shot past a diving Muse to tie the game at 2-2 with his fourteenth goal of the season. With an assist on the play, Vatanen extended his point/assist streak to five games (0g, 6a).
Norfolk out-shot Charlotte, 13-7, in the third period, but was unable to solve Muse, as the game would require time beyond regulation.
The Checkers began overtime on the power play after a goaltender interference penalty was assessed to Luca Caputi with one minute remaining in regulation. David Rutherford sent a feed from the left point to Gragnani in the high slot. Gragnani one-timed the puck through traffic and into the net 36 seconds into overtime for the game-deciding goal.
John Muse (4-2-0) stopped 31 of 33 shots for the win.
Norfolk was 1-for-6 on the power play. Charlotte was 2-for-4.
The Admirals will host the Hershey Bears on Friday and Saturday nights at Norfolk Scope Arena. The puck drops on Friday at 7:30 p.m., while Saturday's game begins at 7:15 p.m. The first 2,000 fans through the gates on Friday will receive the third set of Admirals trading cards. Friday's game is also American Cancer Society Hockey Night 2013. Saturday's game will feature a post-game skate where you can skate with your favorite Admirals following the conclusion of the game. You may bring your own skates or a limited number of skates will be available for use free of charge.
Don’t miss a minute of Admirals action by purchasing your season tickets today. Stop by the Admirals’ Administrative Offices at Scope, call (757) 640-1212 weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or visit norfolkadmirals.com anytime.
1. Marc-Andre Gragnani – CHA
2. Devante Smith-Pelly – NOR
3. Patrick Maroon – NOR